I settle down into my seat and turn over to the page of the book where i last stopped reading.the train slowly jerks into motion as I slip from a real to a virtually real world.A few minutes later,two tiny hands scratch at my knees.I do not look up,just nod negatedly and continue reading.They are stubborn business men.They tug at my elbow.I look up annoyedly.Two hungry,sleepless eyes stare back deploringly at me.And suddenly i am captivated.It is not always a very pleasant experience to look into someones eyes and feel what they feel.Not if it is hunger,pain and poverty.My hand hypnotically moves to a pocket and rummages for change.It comes out with a two rupee coin.I drop it into the expecting hands,and watch them gleefully pocket it.
I look around and find that she is not alone.Her two younger brothers trail along behind her,shyly and bashful.Together the sum of their ages might add up to 12 years,if i am right.I watch as she goes along to the next passenger and does what she does for a daily job.MY neighbour looks at me and says "You shouldn't give them money.Their parents force them to beg if the earn more."I look back at him.He looks like a mediocrely rich comfortable guy sitting in the train snacking on a Parle G.And the voices of my friends run through my head.I always was a sucker for emotion and passion.They always cursed me for thinking from my heart.I wondered if i could do that.Would that 'beggar girl' do that? Could she just think about herself? Could she do what she aims,or earn back a lost age of innocence and joy that might forever continue to haunt her?I wonder if my friends know that.I wonder if she cares,unlike them,that the sensex has just recovered from a bad day.does she know that Sanjay Dutt has been released on bail? Would it matter to her if the Indo-US nuke deal got through?I guess not.But she would rejoice in it ,that i am sure of.
She gets down at the next station.I follow my neighbour out to my destination platform.HE sits down on a bench and throws his remaining crumbs of biscuits down.Soon a few strays gather round and begin snifing him.He looks embarrassingly at me," I love dogs".I nod hesitatingly.The trio has just taken their position at the invisible side of the bookstall.The eldest sister ,puts her hand inside her torn dress and lifts out what looks like a wasted chapati.She unbiasedly divides it into three and distributes it to her younger siblings.The youngest one splits his share and offers it to a mother bitch and her pups that have taken guard near him.The boy hangs on playfully to the bitch's ears,while the pups gather round him.An irritated tug sends the boy cartwheeling backwards.He gets up,shakes his head and turns his eyes at me.soon,they gleam with a mischievious smile.
What world is this,i think? I am reminded of the Amitav Ghosh's words in 'The Hungry Tide': "What kind of people are these that are willing to sacrifice us for the sake of animals?Where do they live?Do they have families,children?Do they know what is being done in their name?It is as though the entire world has turned into an animal and our fault,the only one,is that we are still human".And i know i have fallen into one more of my rambles.
MY eyes shut into the darkness.And i hear a smile.A gentle,innocent smile that keeps growing till it is a laugh and does not stop.The laugh grows in tempo,baritone and manner and soon it has a derision to it.IT becomes the kind of laughter you laugh when your friend gets slapped by his GF.It keeps gaining momentum.And becomes a mad,evil cackle.One that keeps ringing in your ears,that advertise a jealousy,hatred and mockery at the hypocritic world that i live in.And then it stops.As abruptly as it began.The alarm goes off somewhere,and my mom nudges me to wakefulness.The next day has begun,and will soon end.Soon.